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Chinese firm races to grab 'Lightning' Bolt
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A Chinese company has offered sprint star Usain Bolt a staggering deal that could see the Jamaican reap more than $115 million in the next five years.

Ajani Williams, chief executive officer with Anza Marketing Group (AMG), yesterday confirmed that the organization, which has the sole rights to market Bolt in China, received the offer after "Lightning" struck twice at last month's Berlin World Championships - winning both the 100 m (9.58) and 200 m (19.19) in world-record times.

While Williams was reluctant to reveal the 23-year-old's potential suitor, he said the offer could not only change the face of track and field but sport in general.

The potential deal is understood to include a base salary "in the teens (between 13 and 19 million)" plus a licensing deal that could see Bolt reap $60-70 million during the five years.

Also, Bolt would get the opportunity to set up his own branch of the unnamed firm, which would put him in the stellar range of sports entrepreneurs that includes basketball's Michael Jordan and golf's Tiger Woods.

"This is unprecedented in terms of (track and field) base salary and the licensing deal and could change the whole landscape. It's a trailblazer," said Williams, who is a former NBA player and the current president of the Jamaica Basketball Association.

"We (Anza) have done our bit; we have handed in a 15-page evaluation and it's now up to Usain - he's the boss - and the people around him," he said. "I would not like to put a betting figure on whether he accepts it or not but it is a great deal and very hard for other companies to match."

Before signing on the dotted line with the Chinese company, Bolt will have to find a way out of current sponsorship deals with companies including Puma, Gatorade, Texaco and Digicel.

"Although I don't want to reveal the name or nature of the company, there may be possible conflicts and legal ramifications," Williams said. "However, this very well-established company in China has stated it is willing to buy out current sponsors."

While the AMG boss was upbeat, "Team Bolt" remains coy and issued a statement saying, in part: "The Management wishes to make it clear that it respects the terms of the valid contract which it has with Puma, wherein its terms restrict the Management from having any direct contact with a competitor of Puma - the shoe contract sponsor, until after 2010 when the present contract ends."

He said the Chinese company may be willing to wait.

"(The company) came to me after his second race in Berlin with the offer. There have been no negotiations. I am waiting on word from Usain and his people and then, if they are interested, I will go forward with a counter proposal," he said.

According to reports in Jamaica, that reply could double the original figures.

Also potentially adding to the Olympic medalist's fortune is a possible deal with sina.com, host of one of the biggest blogs in China.

While no official deadline has been set for the "major" Chinese deal, Williams believes the company wants an answer by the end of next month.

(China Daily September 25, 2009)


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